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I'm having a bit of a freak out.
Not lying, It's just shy of paper-bag-breathing.
You see, our oldest turns 13 today. "Ok," I thought, "No worries. It's totally awesome."
Wasn't phased a bit.
I realized that from this point on, I will have at least one teen-aged child every single day for the next 19 years. (Or more!) The days of being a young family are quickly fading away.
How can this happen?
We are only 33 years old! Are we mature enough yet to parent teenagers?
Thank God we still have oodles of little ones running around to remind me of how precious the "small" years are.
Some days I find myself deeply missing the humble beginnings of those "small years." We had a tiny, musty, dirty apartment (formerly occupied by a junkie), drunk obnoxious neighbors, a brand new baby and ZERO money. The recollections of those early, lonely, trying days, are the most precious, the most beautiful, the most cemented into my memory.
We were forced to grow up when we had him. He made us responsible, and hard working. He made us a family.
Today we are saying goodbye to childhood, and hello to the future man God is making out of our son. Childish things have ended, and adulthood is now our focus.
Long gone is the tiny boy who tracked muddy red boots across my floors; who hid the wooden spanking spoon inside his red ride-on fire engine; who peed on the floor each morning after taking off his diaper; who loved Elmo and called all flying insects "Bee-Bugs." Gone is the little boy who loved rain, umbrellas and watching worms drown in puddles.
Gone is the kid who spent his time daydreaming, coloring, building forts and playing "Army Man" in the back yard.
It's been a long 13 years, and I've always seen this coming, slowly, far off in the distance. I stood back and saw a bright sunrise coming up over the horizon, blurring the lines of time, blinding me to that which was in motion and couldn't be stopped, no matter how hard I tried. His growing up shouldn't take me by surprise...but it does.
My first child, my baby, has grown into a very special young man.
A young man who regularly asks "Mom, can I do anything to help you?"
Who happily unloads the groceries after I get back from a shopping trip.
A young man who takes his little brothers outside to play and teaches them baseball and soccer.
A young man who loves to laugh.
And who is taller than me, and is nearly as tall as his dad!
Who cleans the chicken coup without being asked.
A young man who writes comics, tells jokes and plays the clarinet like a breeze.
Who is our resident dishwasher extraordinaire.
A young man who loves to compose piano music and plays "Moonlight Sonata" by ear.
A young man who studies hard in his schoolwork and has scored several grade levels above average.
Who loves rollerblading, bike riding and sports.
A young man who cares for his brothers and sisters and asks for more!
A young man who is willing to help out anybody.
A young man who is kind and empathetic to others.
Who deeply loves Jesus.
And who has a heart for the persecuted church.
All these things I haven't deserved and never would have dreamed of asking for. Yet God gave them to me in my precious son. I'm an unworthy parent of the most glorious gift.
Today I will sit and drink coffee.
And have a good cry.
Not out of sadness, but out of humility. How can I, so undeserving, so imperfect as a parent, be trusted with such a precious gift?
I will cry out of longing, for days that have passed long ago, and out of hope for a lifetime of future years together.
And for turning over to God this young man whom He has seen fit to bless us with for the last 13 years.
My firstborn son, so treasured, so deeply loved.